Friday, October 10, 2014

"Il gatto nero" (1989) d/ Luigi Cozzi

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While we Italian genre maniacs were all waiting patiently for the final installment of Dario Argento's Three Mothers trilogy at the tail end of the eighties, director Luigi Cozzi,  of Starcrash (1978) and Contamination (1980) fame,  went ahead and delivered his own take on the witchy goings on,  in the form of tonight's review, with splashes of colored light, a pinch of gore, and obligatory rubbery sorceress action courtesy of Rosario Prestopino. The film, alternately known as Demons 6: De Profundis, showcases the familiar genre faces of Urbano Barberini, Florence Guerin, director Michele Soavi in a brief cameo, and of course, Caroline Munro. Wouldn't be a proper Cozzi film without her, and in this particular case, lots of her.

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"Stress lines, cover wear, staining...and you call this copy VG/FN??"
We meet a rising actress and new mother named Anne (Florence Guerin) as she's working on a formulaic horror film based on Poe's The Black Cat for a hack director named Carl (Michele Soavi...yeah, right!) while her husband Marc (Urbano Barberini) jockeys to get his next project funded. With the upcoming film's subject matter concerning the third, and most horrible of the Mothers of Sorrow, as imagined by author Thomas De Quincey, and Marc even name dropping Dario Argento along the way, is it any wonder that such a blasphemous production would awaken a witch named Levana, with copyright infringement, possession, and bloody witchcraft-based death in mind. The rubbery resurrected spellcaster takes her would be cinematic namesake's role research personally, infiltrating her dreams with space footage borrowed from Cozzi's Hercules movies,  repeatedly visiting from inside her mirror, Exorcist-style projectile vomiting, and even haunting the poor girl's refrigerator and creating refrigerator repairmen mirages, along the way. Just stay outta the veggie crisper, Levana, come on now.

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She's Lump, she's Lump, she's Lump. She's got a rubbery head.
Of course, the film's producer, is an invalid named Leonard Levin (Brett Halsey) who may or may not be in secret cahoots with Levana,  having that cleverly homonymous last name and all, and Anne's actress/gal pal and girlfriend to Marc's scriptwriter,  the ever-mugging Nora (Caroline Munro)'s sun-scorched leathery skin is too similar in texture to Levana's latex black magic acne problem for her own good, methinks. Oh yeah, people get murdered along the way, there's a close up neck ventilation, a slow motion exploding midsection that will more than remind some of you of Cozzi's earlier Alien (1979) rip-off, Contamination (1980), and a television screen that vomits entrails and soupy goop in a similar fashion to that famous Cronenberg 1981 floor model. Levana kidnaps Anna's newborn, with designs on sacrificing her, naturally, but Anna allies herself with the spirit of a fairy, and that can only mean one thing: it's time for a lackluster, low budgeted, laser effect-packed "what the fuck just happened?" finale. Roll credits.

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When Celiac sufferers eat pizza made with high gluten flour, this is often the tragic result.
Whether you consider this one Demons 6, Suspiria 3, or The Black Cat (I don't really consider it a true sequel to anything, really, more of an ultra cheap spin off), depends on what characteristic rises to the surface from Cozzi's cloudy soup of genre elements for you, I guess. If it's poxy eighties hair metal, nonsensical gore, and Urbano Barberini, then you'd roll with Demons 6. If the colored filters, cues lifted from Goblin's Suspiria score, and direct references to the Argento film stand out, you'd probably call it Suspiria 3. There's barely anything Black Cat-ish to speak of, here, though Fulci allegedly expressed some desire in taking the chair on the movie, despite having already covered all things ebony feline himself, some eight years earlier. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? On the scale, Il gatto's much too incoherent and balls up to merit anything more than a single Wop, though you completists and trash lovers might want to hunt down the Japanese VHS, which may very well still be the only legitimate release of the film to date, just the same.
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Cheap laser visual effects. Nothing embodies the powers of eighties-style witchery like them.
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